COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- On January 3, 2002, family, friends, business associates, and community leaders gathered at a memorial service to honor the legacy of William F. (Bill) Williams, President and co- founder of Glory Foods, Inc. Williams died suddenly of a heart attack on December 27 at the age of 57. Williams was a highly respected businessman, community leader and restaurateur in the Columbus, Ohio, area who parlayed his love and passion for Southern foods to develop Glory Foods, Inc., a company that markets and distributes conveniently prepared canned and fresh vegetables and frozen family meals inspired by Southern recipes. In 1989, seasoned collard greens in a can seemed unimaginable to many, but for co-founders Williams, Dan Charna and Iris Cooper, it was an idea whose time had come. Today, Glory Foods distributes a full-line of seasoned canned vegetables, frozen entrees and side dishes to over 140 supermarket chains throughout the country. In the past year, Williams and his staff were busy developing and introducing new products, creating new packaging designs and introducing an in-house Fresh Produce Division to market premium selections of Fresh-Cut, Washed and Ready- to-Cook Packaged Greens and Fresh Cut, Washed and Ready-to Cook Packaged Sweet Potatoes. Williams had the foresight to build a company that would withstand time, and as Glory Foods approaches its 10-year anniversary in July 2002, the company is strategically positioned to go forth with his vision. Williams leaves Glory Foods well capitalized, financially stable and strategically positioned for continued growth. "We are a company built on excellence and constant attention to detail and perfection," said Dan Charna, co-founder. "This is the foundation Bill Williams established early in the company and continues to manifest and grow in all of us who must carry forth his vision. We will continue to maintain the integrity and commitment he inspired in all of us to work with communities and educational institutions to create a stronger fabric for the growth and development of society. Bill leaves us a legacy of excellent customer service and hard work. We will continue his dream," adds Charna. Bill Williams Leaves Lasting Legacy Williams was a well-known and sought after expert on Southern cooking who learned his trade early working at a local Columbus restaurant. The owner, impressed by his interest in recipes and food preparation, became his mentor and encouraged him to apply for admission to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, where he joined a select group of African-Americans admitted to the school. When he graduated, he was a certified Chef. He later obtained a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Massachusetts and worked for a number of hotel chains as a Food and Beverage Manager. In 1982, Williams and his wife Elizabeth opened the Marble Gang Restaurant in Columbus and nurtured it into the premiere soul food eatery on the East Side of Columbus. Williams sold the restaurant in 1997. Williams was an entrepreneur who understood the importance of reaching back so that others may move forward, and he leaves a legacy of outstanding community service and educational achievement. Glory Foods' excellence in fostering community and corporate partnerships earned the company the prestigious Council on Economic Priorities, "Corporate Conscience Pioneer Award for Community Partnerships" in 1998; the 1999 Social Compact "New Face of Leadership Award," and, The Ron Brown Award for "Corporate Leadership" in 2000. Black Enterprise Magazine awarded Glory Foods the "Emerging Company of the Year Award" in 1996 for excellence in niche marketing. Williams' support of educational programs was largely attributed to enhancing minority representation in the food and beverage industry. He was a tireless advocate whose personal commitment manifested into scholarship awards and partnerships with organizations and universities to encourage participation and exposure. As co-chair of Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences he was committed to raising $7 million in endowments for minority students seeking degrees in Agri- business. He also helped to develop a Minority Produce Business Development Program (MPBDP) in tandem with the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association to provide developmental support and training for minority farmers. His ongoing support of the black farming community opened up avenues for groundbreaking discussions and programs that helped to strengthen the farmers' presence and value in the food industry. Bill Williams' legacy is one that will endure and continue to enhance the quality of life for many. Family members request that memorial gifts to Williams be made in the form of contributions to the American Heart Association or the Kidney Foundation.
SOURCE Glory Foods, Inc.